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Home building on the rise in Saskatoon, creating ‘gold mine’ for lumber thieves: police


Home builds and renovations are on the rise in Saskatoon and the price of lumber is at an all-time high, leading some to take drastic — and illegal — measures.

March saw more people in Saskatoon starting construction on their dream kitchen or new house; unfortunately, many sites have become targets for thieves, according to city police.

Read more: Sky-rocketing lumber prices shock renovators: ‘It’s ridiculous’

Lumber, along with cabinets, flooring, lights, tools and more are being stolen from construction sites, according to an email from Saskatoon police.

The Saskatoon Home Builders’ Association said supplies are in high demand.

“The market’s not easy out there,” explained CEO Chris Guérette. “There is a shortage of supply, and it’s not just lumber, anything really to build a home is quite painful to price, to source, to get on time.”

Click to play video: Skyrocketing lumber costs hammering Manitoba builders

A tweet from a Saskatoon constable earlier this week shows close to $1,000 worth of stolen lumber. Saskatoon police said neighbourhoods in the early stages of development are most at risk.

Police said thieves are going after new building sites or homes being renovated.

Bob Burron of Burron Lumber has been in business for 40 years. He said he’s never seen lumber prices this high as right now.

He gave the example of one sheet of plywood that cost around $12 before the pandemic.

“Now my cost is around $72-75 a sheet, so for me to bring that in and retail it, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“It’s just not available. So when things aren’t available your prices increase.”

Read more: Lumber industry and home building materials seeing a drastic increase in price, shortages

Saskatoon police said unsecured areas like yards, garages and homes are easy targets for thieves.

“Police have attended to these sites recently and observed an abundance of unsecured materials scattered about, which is a ‘gold mine,’” wrote Sgt. Tosha Ternes with Saskatoon police’s break and enter unit in an email to Global News.

“This is a crime of opportunity.”

Police said it’s important to lock up possessions and construction sites, and suggest getting security alarms, motion-activated lights and even hiring security if it’s in your budget.

The home builders’ association suggested being vigilant and keeping track of deliveries.

Read more: Retired Regina police officer captures alleged bike thief

“Any time there’s a large purchase, any time there’s something out of the ordinary — I think everybody should just be aware in general but definitely now,” Guérette said.

Saskatoon police said most thefts of this nature happen between Thursday and Monday, and almost always at night between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.

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